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Heights anxiety! Locals want Prospect Heights named a historic district

The Brooklyn Paper
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If there’s a knock at your door in the next six months from a formally dressed man or woman, don’t assume it’s the Jehovah’s Witnesses — it may be someone from the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

In the coming months, city inspectors will ring doorbells on nearly 870 buildings across a 12-block swath of Prospect Heights, part of the study process before the Commission votes in July to landmark the area.

At a hearing on Tuesday, nearly 30 supporters said that the neighborhood needs protection to preserve the “special sense of place” and “district streetscape” of the area’s mid-19th-century architecture.

No one testified against the proposal, which is rare.

“The character and scale of Prospect Heights is threatened today by development seeking to maximize [what is] available to be built under the district’s zoning,” said Gib Veconi of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council.

The district would stretch from Flatbush Avenue nearly to Washington Avenue and from Sterling Place to Pacific Street — up to, but not including, the site of Bruce Ratner’s proposed $4-billion mega-development, Atlantic Yards.

Veconi singled out the project, saying its “scale and density” would “increase the incidence of out-of-context development in Prospect Heights.”

Many buildings within the proposed district have particularly deep lots — a zoning quirk that could allow voracious developers to put up large-scale buildings.

“We’re all very under-built and there’s a danger that as those buildings are transferred over, they can be developed into overbuilt structures, which demolish the historic character,” Robert Witherwax, a member of Community Board 8, told The Brooklyn Paper.

Veconi said he is excited the long process is finally moving forward.

“Everybody spoke in support of designation, so we thought that was great,” he said. “We’re confident that the Landmarks Preservations Commission will take swift action and schedule a vote on designation.”

Updated 5:09 pm, July 9, 2018
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